Outdoor Learning Labs

Woman shoveling sand

Outdoor classrooms, improved school to trail connections, and interpretive trail signage are just some of the larger projects implemented by teachers and schools dedicated to incorporating their neighborhood parks and trails into lessons. These long-term projects increase connections between dedicated school staff, teachers, students, and families with their local public green spaces, and create student opportunities for civic engagement and community outreach.

Adults presenting in front of a classroomStudents are involved in every step of the park improvement process, including design, planning, and construction. They are given an active voice in their community and partner with local professionals and community organizations. These projects foster student stewardship of our public lands and expand school boundaries to include streams, forests, and natural habitats as part of the classroom experience. A vital partner to these school/park projects is the American Society of Landscape Architects, Alaska Chapter. As part of their Student Outreach program, landscape architects volunteer their time and expertise to work directly with students on these projects in their classrooms and parks.

The Anchorage Park Foundation has provided funding to many of these projects through the Challenge Grants program. Challenge Grants are awarded every two years (most recently in 2022) with generous support from Rasmuson Foundation. Grants range in amounts up to $40,000, and recipients of the grant must match the funds with private donations, in-kind services, or volunteer hours. Learn more about Challenge Grants and how to apply here:

Learn about the projects:

Campbell Elementary School STEM, Wolverine Park Improvements

Nunaka Valley Elementary School, Learning Labs in Russian Jack Springs Park 

Pacific Northern Academy, Northwest Corner of Ruth Arcand Park Nature Trail

Sand Lake Elementary, Sand Lake Park Makeover

Westchester Lagoon Nature Trail Rehabilitation